Funny how in traveling to rural Colombia I found one of the things I missed most from growing up in Michigan: thunderstorms.
Days here in San José alternate between cloudy and sunny, really hot and just plain hot, but come evening a thunderstorm is nearly guaranteed. Soon after sunset - which happens at essentially the same hour all year, since we're so close to the equator - lightening begins to break in they darkened sky. Soon after, the rumblings of thunder can be heard in the distance, and the wind picks up just a bit. After maybe half an hour, the rain starts pegging our tin roof, and at times doesn’t let up until dawn. It ebbs and flows, however, so if we’re out visiting a neighbor, we can wait for an ebb in order to race home without getting too soaked. Hopefully we remember to put on our botas – rubber boots – before leaving the house, so as not to get stuck in one of the many mud puddles the rain invariably creates.
Rain like this means we’re in winter right now. Using the term “winter" here, when the tempature seldom drops below 85, is a bit laughable to a Michigander like myself. What is even more amusing, however, is that winter is a season that lasts most of the year – at least 9 of twelve months. Basically, it rains here all the time. If by chance there are a few days without rain, people start talking about it being “summer.” This kind of summer never lasts more than a few days, though; soon, it’s raining yet again.
Rain like this also means things grow like crazy here. That’s a big part of the reason this region has long been the banana-growing center of Colombia, as I discussed in my last post, and why this land is so hotly contested between armed groups and the civilians who simply want to farm here. It’s also why I’ve been so excited to get a garden started in our backyard.
When I was here two years ago on a delegation, I remember that the then-FORistas (as we Accompaniers working with FOR call ourselves) had a great garden, and that was something I was looking forward to continuing. When I arrived, however, I discovered that recent FORistas had let the garden go, and even after just a couple of months without attention, the whole backyard had been completely overtaken by weeds and tall grasses. At the left is a picture I took the other day, in which you can more or less see that the word “garden” does not even remotely apply.Undaunted, my teammate Julia and I, with great help from a friend of ours in the community, cleaned up the whole thing yesterday. We chopped down the grasses with machetes (well, our friend mostly did that part) and tore out tons of weeds. In the process we discovered that a bit of the garden was still holding on: mini bell peppers, yucca, lemongrass, ginger, spinach (some variety that grows on a vine that I have never before seen), green onions, pineapple and beans. Not too shabby, huh? At the right is the after picture. Once we get seeds for things like basil and zucchini that should be arriving soon from the States, we’ll be well on our way to having a much greater selection than any market we could hope to find in Apartadó, the town where we do our shopping. Of course, that’s in part because Colombians are not huge fans of vegetables…but that’s another story.